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China dismisses report of possible retaliatory detentions of Americans

China dismisses report of possible retaliatory detentions of Americans
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Officials in Beijing denied a report that U.S. diplomats working in China have been warned that they could face detention in response to the Justice Department's efforts to prosecute Chinese nationals for espionage.

Reuters reported that a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry claimed instead at a Monday news briefing that  U.S. officials were guilty of detaining their Chinese counterparts without cause.

“The U.S. claim that foreign nationals in China are under threat of arbitrary detention is playing the victim and confusing black and white,” Zhao Lijian told reporters, according to the news service.

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Zhao reportedly went on to accuse the Trump administration of “outright political repression” of Chinese nationals.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, reported Sunday that U.S. diplomats have been warned by Chinese officials through multiple channels including the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that they could face detention if the U.S. does not drop its prosecution of suspected Chinese agents.

The State Department declined to comment on the specifics of the Journal's report.

"We warn U.S. citizens that business disputes, court orders to pay a settlement, or government investigations into both criminal and civil issues may result in an exit ban which will prohibit your departure from China until the issue is resolved,” it told the newspaper.

Accusations have flown between the two countries all year, with the U.S. moving to close China's consulate in Houston in July while at the time accusing Chinese officials of using the facility to conduct espionage on U.S. companies. The State Department said at the time that the move was meant to "protect American intellectual property and American’s private information."